You may be considering upgrading from a trailer tent/conventional tent or you may be totally new to camping and have decided you want to enjoy camping with as many home comforts as possible and are in the process of looking to buy a touring caravan.
This guide is designed to help anyone who is interested in buying a touring caravan giving you the basics and some food for thought before you buy. Your Car And The Towing Ratio
here are limits to what you can tow depending on your car and caravan. I would say this is the only complicated area to understand when looking for either a new car if you already have a caravan or if you are looking for a new touring caravan to be in ratio with your current car.
However once you have an understanding of the towing guidelines, terminology and the weights you will be in a great position to choose the right caravan for you.
In your cars/caravans hand books or on the weight plates of your car/caravan you will find the manufactures figures for working out the legal towing weights. (The weight plates also known as Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) can be found under the bonnet or on the driver’s door pillar in a car and in the caravan should be in the entrance door).
Knowing your cars and caravans actual weight when loaded is not that easy to work out due to the different kerb weights, towing limits etc. but to stay in the legal Gross Train Weight (GTW) limits you should take your car and caravan loaded to a weigh bridge or purchase a portable weighing machine. This way you will know you are safe and legal to tow. Understanding The Definitions Of Weight and Mass
Car to Caravan Weight Ratio = It is strongly recommended that you do not exceed an 85% caravan to car weight ratio. i.e.: Your caravan when fully loaded should not be more than 85% of your cars kerb-weight (or max tow weight if this is lower). If you are experienced at towing you may tow up to 100% but this is not recommended.
Actual Weight = The weight of the caravan loaded as you tow it on the road. This must not exceed the MAM or MTPLM, as inscribed on the weight plate of the caravan.
Essential Equipment Payload (EEP) = This is the fluids and items that are needed for the caravans equipment, this means things such as gas and water.
Gross Train Weight (GTW) = The maximum a car and caravan, is allowed to weigh when fully loaded.
Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW) = This is the total weight that a car or trailer/caravan is designed to carry. Meaning the weight of the trailer with its load, the car must never be loaded beyond this weight.
Kerb Side Weight (KW) = U.K, This is the weight of the vehicle but with no passengers, including adequate supply of liquids for its operation, and the standard set of tools and equipment. E.U Directive, weight of the vehicle with fuel tank 90% full plus driver and 7kg of luggage.
Mass In Running Order (MIRO) =This is the weight of the caravan in standard trim as it leaves the factory, it includes a tolerance of plus or minus 3% per cent. Mass In Service = The Mass in Running Order (MIRO), or kerb weight including a 75kg driver, of a car as it left the factory. It excludes any components added by the dealer. This figure is given in the car’s Vehicle Registration Certificate V5C (‘log book’) for newer vehicles.
Maximum Authorized Mass (MAM) = This is the maximum total weight that a vehicle is designed to carry, it includes the vehicle weight and the load carried. The absolute maximum total weight as set by the manufacturer.
Maximum Technically Permissible Laden Mass (MTPLM) = Same as MAM, This is the maximum total laden weight allowed, as set by the manufacturer, that the caravan can take.
Maximum Towing Limit (MTL) =This is the total amount that the vehicle can move from a hill start. The vehicle must be able to do this 5 times on a 12 per cent hill within 5 minutes. This limit is an absolute maximum and must never be exceeded. I wouldn't recommend using this as your main guide to what your vehicle can tow.
Nose Weight = The downward load the caravan puts on the tow ball of the towing vehicle. The maximum must be no greater than either that stated in your Caravan or Car handbook, whichever is the LOWER. (Usually between 50-100kg, typically 75kg) Personal Effects Payload (PEP) = This is the personal items that you would carry in your caravan and includes things like food, bedding, clothes etc.
Towing Limit = The maximum weight a vehicle is designed to tow up a 12 per cent hill (1 in 8).
Un laden Weight = The weight of a vehicle when not carrying a load and excluding fuel or batteries, if it’s electrically powered.
User Payload = The weight of extras that can be carried in or on the caravan.
Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) = This is the number on the metal plate fixed to the chassis of the caravan or on the car which identifies the vehicle, on a caravan it has the weights on it.
In Part Two of the dummies guide we will look at how to load your caravan safely.